When setting up a new website, one of the key things to think about is web hosting. Every site needs one but where to start, and what should you look for in a hosting provider? Some firms will simply provide the barebones, and include extra functions as an add-on basis, while other website design companies will keep everything under one roof, from building the site, to managing the technology and providing design support down the line. To hopefully make the world of web hosting a little easier to follow, lets think about it as if we are planning a holiday and booking a hotel.
What is web hosting?
Firstly, we need to know what a web host actually is. In short, its where your website physically is stored. Your website is comprised of lots of files. The text, images and all the code of your site is bundled together and physically hosted on a server. When you visit a website, your computer is very cleverly finding the server of the site, making a copy of the all the text and images of the page you are visiting and then building the page on your screen, all in the space of a few seconds. Hosting therefore needs to be fast and secure, because if there are any issues with your host, your site may not be visible to your customers.
A lot of websites are hosted by firms which only offer the pure web host tools. These are often a nice cheap solution, but a lot of the extras they offer, could be things that you’ll end up needing. Also, a little bit of tech knowhow won’t hurt.
After a long journey, no one looks forward to unloading the luggage from your rental car and unpacking your bags. Much the same could be said for uploading your website files. While the hosting company may be able to assist, they will be limited in what they can offer. If there is an issue with an image or file, the hosting firm won’t be able to help, it’ll be a problem to be solved by your website designer. Perhaps a host could help find an alternative platform, or you may need to go without a particular feature or image. It’s a bit like when you forget to pack your swimwear, the only solutions would be to go home and pick them up again, or find an alternative solution that may not be the best fit and style, but could get the job done.
Your website may need some extra additions during your stay, and while these may be advertised on the outset, it could be only free for a limited time, or only as part of bigger packages. Every website will need an SSL security certificate, and it’s always a good idea to pick up a professional email package too, but these will likely be paid for add-ons, just like booking a breakfast in a discount hotel chain or subscribing to the in-room Wi-Fi.
With a website designer who has built your site, and continues to manage it, everything is simpler. There is no issue in getting the website files online, as the site would have been designed to work specifically with the hosting. When going with different firms for the creation of the site, and the ongoing hosting and maintenance, the big issue boils down to what changes can and can’t be made by yourself, and what changes can and can’t be made by the hosting firm. Often, the web host will be there to make sure the cables are plugged in and the lights are on, but won’t be able to assist with the look, feel and functionality of the website at all. By having your web designer involved in managing the site, you’ve got someone, a concierge if you will, who not only knows how it all came together, but can help with making changes to the site and managing the technical goings on.
The other key factor is the website SEO. As the site has been designed based around certain key words and phrases to get indexed on Google, well then it makes sense that the ongoing maintenance also keeps those same key words to heart, again, just like your concierge will be able to help you find the local hot spots, your website design and management agency will get to know your business and be able to advise on SEO much more effectively than a firm which only looks after the upkeep of your web hosting server.
By keeping things all together under one roof, you know exactly who to call if there is an issue with the site, the emails, security and the hosting, each part has been designed to work together and all have the same direct point of contact. When you need help with changes, you have the ability to call room service for help with an error or guidance if you were looking to upgrade the site as your business expands.
Location, Location, Location
As we all know when planning the perfect getaway, the location of your hotel is a key factor. Is it near the beach, or good transport links? Similar questions need to be asked about web hosting. Where is your server actually located? It sounds like a daft question, when the internet is all online, but as your customers devices have to physically visit the server to access the page data. If the device is a long way from your customers, slower data transfer speeds lead to slow webpage load times and therefore your customers may not hang around waiting for the page to load. Also, much like holidaying outside the EU, extra checks may be required as GDPR requires customer data is held securely within the E.E.A. Make sure to check where the web hosting servers are physically located, to make sure you aren’t going to run into issues down the line.
Another thing to keep in mind, there’s not much worse than getting away, then having to deal with noisy neighbours. The same is true of your web hosting. If your website is squeezed into a server with lots of other websites, then you are all sharing the same bandwidth. If one of these neighbouring sites is getting a lot of traffic, then it’s going to eat up the available bandwidth and slow down yours and the other sites in the cluster. A well-managed server will keep an eye out for these noisy neighbours, and move them away to a private area so they can benefit from the full speed it needs, and the other websites can take a sigh of relief and stretch out.
We don’t like to rush when planning our dream holiday. The same should apply to web hosting. Sure, it’s not as exciting, but when planning the future of your business’ online marketing, it makes sense to give it the care and attention it deserves. Just like we wouldn’t want to take a break and end up staying in a rough motel, we need to make sure we host our website in an environment that is safe, secure, fast and stress free. Need some more guidance about how web hosting works? Or perhaps want to find out more about our all-inclusive package deals, feel free to get in touch with our team.